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Archive for September, 2013


Story of the Day for Monday September 30, 2013 

 

Learning to Dream Big 

 

                  The Lord is close to the brokenhearted; he saves those crushed in spirit.  

Psalm 34:18             

 

 

If you’ve never heard speakers urge their audience to dream big, to shoot for the stars or sail beyond the horizon, then you don’t listen to many high school commencement speeches.  

I vibrate to Commencement Day speeches because I know that, among those bored seniors with sore butts, there is an attentive student who will invent the perpetual motion machine or a grad who will someday win first prize with their strawberry jam at the county fair.  

Nevertheless, despite these inspiring themes, I still have the urge to interrupt commencement speeches by making rude noises during their presentations 

Graduation speeches don’t tell us the full truth. They lack the courage to talk about failure and shipwrecked dreams. They don’t even mention the percentage of graduating seniors who will someday wind up with hemorrhoids.  

 

Lately, I’ve been reading about high school graduates who have been told to shoot for the stars. 

https://i0.wp.com/cdn2-www.hoopsvibe.com/assets/uploads/2013/05/file_171007_0_RACECover.jpg

More than a half million males play high school basketball in the United States. Many of them dream of entering the NBA. Yet, only one in thirty five of them will ever play for a college team, and less than one percent of high school players will ever play basketball in competitive Division One colleges.  

But even NCAA Division One basketball is a long way from the pros. One out of every seventy-five NCAA college players will advance to the pros.   

The NCAA, whom I commend for their frankness, says that for every ten thousand high school basketball players, only three of them will ever be drafted by an NBA team.  

 

That only a few high school players will play in the NBA is not surprising news. But here’s what breaks my heart: Forty-three percent of black high school basketball players believe they will make it into the NBA. Out of every 10,000 black basketball players, 4300 of them think they’ll hit the big time, and 4297 of them will find that their dreams have been crushed.  

It gets even sadder: nearly half of those black players believed its easier to become a professional basketball player than to become a doctor or lawyer.  

 

When you follow your dreams and sail for the horizon – only to find your ship marooned on a hidden reef, don’t expect your high school commencement speaker to paddle out to you to hold your hand.  

But I do know someone who will be there for you. The Lord stays close to the brokenhearted.  Admiration attaches itself to achievement, but love is attracted to need.  

You will have learned to dream big, when your dreams include the One who will catch you when you fall. 

(copyright 2012 by climbinghigher.org and by Marty Kaarre)  (image: http://cdn2-www.hoopsvibe.com/assets/uploads/2013/05/file_171007_0_RACECover.jpg)

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Story of the Day for Friday September 27, 2013 

 

Truth Poses No Threat 

 

                 . . .that we might no longer be infants, tossed by the waves, and blown around by every wind of teaching and by the craftiness and cunning of men in their deceitful scheming.  

Ephesians 4:14            

 

https://i0.wp.com/www.csa.com/discoveryguides/khan/images/battle.jpg

Do you know what conqueror created the largest contiguous Empire in history? I’ll give you a clue: his empire stretched from the Pacific Ocean to the Adriatic Sea, and included China, Baghdad, and Moscow.  

His name was Genghis Khan, and in the 13th century, his Mongol army was unstoppable.  

 

He didn’t rely simply on brute force and superior numbers. His army was well-trained, but Genghis Khan was a master of deception.  

In 1241, the Hungarians seemed to be strong and willing to fight to the death. Since Ghengis Khan didn’t have the strength to stage a frontal assault, he surrounded the enemy. The Hungarians, however, noticed that they failed to completely surround them. There was a gap in the lines through which they could escape. As soldiers broke ranks to escape from their attackers, they had no idea they were running into the trap. The Mongols created an “escape hatch” so that, once in the open, they could be funneled into a trap where they would be overwhelmed.   

In 1258, the Mongols invaded Szechuan with 40,000 but spread rumors that they had 100,000 soldiers. Genghis Khan set up camp and ordered every soldier to light five campfires to create the illusion that they he had an overwhelming opposing army. On the horizon, the Mongols would tie branches to the tails of their horses to stir up dust in order to make it appear to their adversary that a large army of enemy reinforcements was arriving.  

When near the Dneiper River, the Mongols were far outnumbered by 80,000 warriors led by Prince Mstitslav of Kiev. The Mongols sent a token force on horseback to attack, but then they turned and retreated. The prince’s cavalry realized the Mongols were few in numbers, and left their defensive position to pursue them. The Mongols retreated to the Kalka River, with their enemy strung out in pursuit. Then, the bulk of the Mongol army waited to ambush the attackers from both sides. The retreating Mongols suddenly spun around and attacked from the front – destroying their adversary.  

 

Truth poses no threat to the believer. The Christian community has always welcomed debate with atheists, evolutionists, pro-abortionists – you name it.   

But, the Bible urges us to grow up in our faith. Spiritual maturity doesn’t make us more loved by God, but it does make us wiser to the many deceptions and false claims that intimidate those young in the faith.   

Genghis Khan could never have accomplished what he did without the cunning to deceive his enemies.  

The only way deception can hurt you is to believe it. 

(copyright 2012 by climbinghigher.org and by Marty Kaarre)

(image: http://www.csa.com/discoveryguides/khan/images/battle.jpg)

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Story of the Day for Thursday September 26, 2013 

 

Taking the Time to Knock 

 

                   . . . he went down the road. When he saw the beaten man, he stepped around him and continued on his way. 

Luke 10:31       

 

 

Psychologists John Darley and Daniel Batson conducted an experiment at Princeton Theological Seminary to discover who would be most likely to act as a Good Samaritan.  

One at a time, seminary students were asked to record a sermon in a nearby building. Half were asked to preach on Jesus’ parable of the Good Samaritan.  

On their walk to record their sermon, however, the researchers planted a “victim” slumped in a doorway. With his head down he would cough twice and groan.  

Would those seminarians who had just rehearsed a sermon on the Good Samaritan be more likely to stop and help the man in need? No. 

Darley and Batson did, however, find one factor most likely to determine whether a student stopped to help the man in need. Some of the students were told they were late and needed to hurry, others were told they were right on time, and the rest told they had plenty of time. 

Only 10 percent of those who were rushed stopped to help the man slumped in the doorway, while 63 percent of those unrushed stopped to see if the man needed help.   

https://kaarre.files.wordpress.com/2013/09/f654e-oldlady.jpg

 

The prolific author, Kent Nerburn, recalled a night when he drove taxi in Minneapolis. He was on the “dog shift” when he got a call at 2:30 a.m. He pulled up to the address of the house. Normally, a taxi driver honks one or two times, waits a minute, and then drives away. But for some reason Kent thought he should get out, so he walked to the door and knocked. 

He heard a frailvoice say, “Just a minute.” When the elderly woman finally opened the door, Nerburntook her suitcase and helped her to the taxi. She gave him the address and asked if they could drive through downtown.  

“It’s not the shortest way.”  

“Oh, I don’t mind,” she said, “I’m in no hurry. I’m on my way to a hospice.”  

Kent reached over and shut off the meter. For two hours he drove her through town. She showed him where she used to work, where she and her husband first lived as newlyweds, the ballroom where she went dancing as a girl.  

When they reached their destination, she asked, “How much do I owe you?” 

“Nothing.”  

“You have to make a living,” she protested. 

“There are other passengers.” 

Nerburn bent down and gave her a hug. She held on tightly and said, “You gave an old woman a little moment of joy. Thank you.”  

Kent felt as if he had never done anything more important in his life. “We’re conditioned to think that our lives revolve around great moments. But great moments often catch us unaware — beautifully wrapped in what others may consider a small one.”  

Kent Nerburn is so thankful he took the time to knock on the door. 

(copyright 2012 by climbinghigher.org and by Marty Kaarre)

(image: https://kaarre.files.wordpress.com/2013/09/f654e-oldlady.jpg)

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Story of the Day for Wednesday September 25, 2013 

 

Bean Counters and Dreamers 

https://i2.wp.com/lifeasrealestateinvestors.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/09/bean-counting-iStock_000006248686XSmall.jpg          http://taicarmen.files.wordpress.com/2010/12/20071219210506_dreamer1.jpg

                      In Christ we, who are many, form one body, and each part belongs to all the others. 

Romans 12:5    

 

Someone once said there are only three kinds of people in this world: those who are good at math and those who aren’t.  

I’m not good at math. 

Numbers are confusing, abstract things. I have a difficult time remembering people’s ages – including my own. My wife can recall phone numbers and zip codes from places where we lived over 20 years ago. I struggle, at times, to remember my current zip code. To me, numbers are not all that important.  

 

People who are good with numbers feel quite differently.  They actually show compassion through numbering things. A pastor once asked me how many members were in my congregation. I didn’t know. This pained him. How can you care about your flock if you don’t know how many there are?”    

He didn’t understand that I couldn’t number my flock even if I wanted to (which I don’t).  Do you include the Pozanskis – who regularly attend worship, but have never  officially become members?  And what about Jason, whom I’ve never met?  He’s in the military, and moves every few years, but wants his membership to remain here. When I try to number people, I always bog down, and end up with a muddled sum. 

 

Some people love numbers and attention to detail. Those of us who are bold visionaries refer to them as “bean counters. Bean counters, however,can dish it back.  They view us visionaries as impractical, and call us “dreamers.”   

So, how do people who approach life in such different ways get along with each other?  The solution is surprisingly simple.  We just round up all the “bean counters” and lure them onto cargo ships with offers of free calculators.  Then we ship them off to a remote jungle in the Amazon basin, and provide them with spreadsheets and those plastic pen protectors you wear in your shirt pocket, and let them lead a happy life. 

 

That’s the easy way.  But God has the better way. 

God wants us to realize how desperately we need each other’s gifts as much as the heart needs the lungs and the lungs need the heart.   

In the body of Christ, we have people who are brilliant at organizing things.  As strange as it sounds to us Big Picture types, they love working out the details and keeping the trains running on time. Without them, bold visions never become a reality.   Administrator types also need those gifted in leadership.   

When we learn to appreciate and value each others gift, good things happen.  Only then will we see the body of Christ being built up 

 I can’t locate the exact Bible passage at the moment, but I think there’s a verse that says you should find a brother or sister who has the opposite gift from you, and buy them pizza, and tell them you appreciate them. Or something like that.  

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Story of the Day for Tuesday September 24, 2013 

 

Encouraging Each Other 

 

 

                Let us consider how we can spur each other on in love and good works – not neglecting to meet together, as some are in the habit, but encouraging each other. . .  

Hebrews 10:24-25    

 

One of the greatest moments in a grade school teacher’s career happened by mistake.    

https://i1.wp.com/img0129.popscreencdn.com/96990945_jaime-escalante-inspirational-math-teacher-latino-.jpgIn his first year of teaching, Jaime Escalante had two students who shared the same first name, Johnny.  But they were so different.   One was an excellent student – happy and well-behaved.  The other was a goof-off and did not take his studies seriously. 

At the first PTA meeting of the year, a parent asked how her son was doing. The teacher raved about her son Johnny and what a delight he was to have in the classroom.   But he was mistaken.  He was actually talking to “bad” Johnny’s mom.   

The next day, the problem child approached the teacher.  “My mom told me what you said about me last night.  I haven’t ever had a teacher who wanted me in his class.”   

From that day on “Problem Johnny” completed his assignments and became a model student. 

 

Even though the teacher’s praise was unintentional, it demonstrates how powerful our encouragement of others can be.   People are capable of doing so much if we can make them believe they can.   

Tom Peters and Robert Waterman, in their best-selling book, In Search of Excellence, describe a psychological experiment where every adult is given the same ten puzzles to solve.   Half of the exam takers were told they did well, getting seven out of ten correct.   The other half was informed they did poorly, getting seven out of ten problems wrong.   

But, in fact, the psychologists made the test scores up.   And when they gave each group another round of puzzles, they discovered that those who were told they did well the first round did better on the second, while those who were told they did poorly did worse on the second test.   

   

Encouragement is urging others to believe – to believe  

in what the Lord has done for them, to believe in what God has made them capable of, to believe they are loved.   

But here is the important point: encouragement is what we do for another person.  We need each other.   That is why the Bible urges us to get together – not only for the purpose of corporate worship – but to encourage each other in love and good deeds.   

 

https://i1.wp.com/www.cardcow.com/images/set408/card00438_fr.jpgEncouraging others is not always our first impulse.   We are avid fans of employing criticism to improve behavior.  And don’t get me wrong – criticism has its place.   There are times when we must point out someone else’s faults.   Yet, if we are not sensitive in our criticism, we can decrease rather than improve another person’s behavior.   The test takers who were told they did poorly are proof of that. 

There is more power in encouragement than we often imagine. Every since Cheryl Pruitt was four or five she would hang around her dad’s country stores.  Every day the milkman would arrive to stock the store.  And every day he would greet little Cheryl and say, “So, how’s my little Miss America?” 

In 1980, guess who became the new Miss America? 

(copyright 2012 by climbinghigher.org and by Marty Kaarre)

(image Cheryl Pruitt: http://www.cardcow.com/images/set408/card00438_fr.jpg)

(Jaimie Escalante image: http://img0129.popscreencdn.com/96990945_jaime-escalante-inspirational-math-teacher-latino-.jpg)

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Story of the Day for Monday September 23, 2013 

Ruining Prayer Meetings 

 

               Rhoda . . . ran inside and announced that Peter was at the door. “You’re crazy!” they told her.                    Acts 12:14-15    

 

Rhoda knew how to wreck a prayer meeting.  

Peter had just been arrested and thrown in prison.  Many believers gathered at the house of Mary, John Mark’s mother (the Mark, by the way, who wrote the second Gospel) to pray for Peter’s release.  

https://i2.wp.com/www.gardenofpraise.com/images2/escape.jpgAn angel of the Lord freed Peter from prison, and Peter went immediately to Mary’s house. When Rhoda, the servant girl, recognized Peter standing at the door, she ran to tell everyone.  Everyone thought she was crazy and were annoyed that she was interrupting their meeting to pray for Peter’s release from prison!   

 

Once, after a long drought, a church held a special meeting to pray for rain. After the people had assembled the pastor asked a pointed question, “How come none of you brought your umbrella along?”   

 

When we explain why certain things are impossible, let’s be sure God isn’t already at work doing them.  

Benjamin Butler was a politician with no military training.  During the Civil War, however, he was appointed a general.  When General Grant told him to capture FortFisher, a vital target in the war, Butler proved disappointing.  When Grant tried to sack him, Butler went to Washington to appeal his case before the Joint Congressional Committee on the Conduct of the War.   

Butler produced charts and reports by subordinates to prove he was right to call off the attack on FortFisherGeneral Butler then proceeded to prove that close scrutiny of the fort showed it could not be taken. The fort’s thick walls and torpedo fields made it impossible to attack by land or naval bombardment.

https://i1.wp.com/www.civilwar.org/assets/images/battlefieldhubs/battlefieldtitle/fort-fisher-battlefield.jpg 

While Butler passionately defended his actions before the committee, the noise outside became distracting.  People were cheering. Soon they discovered why. The newspaper headline announced that FortFisher had been captured by General Terry.   

The committee meeting dissolved into laughter.  While General Butler proved that FortFisher would not be captured, it was captured.  

 

The Chinese have a proverb: “The man who says it cannot be done should not interrupt the man who is doing it.”   

 

I often caution people about prayer.  I tell them that prayer is not a magic wand. But, on the other hand, we  must be careful not to tell God what can and cannot be done.  If past history is any indicator, he doesn’t mind ruining prayer meetings.  

(copyright 2011 by climbinghigher.org and by Marty Kaarre)

(Fort Fisher image: http://www.civilwar.org/assets/images/battlefieldhubs/battlefieldtitle/fort-fisher-battlefield.jpg)

(Peter/Angel image: http://www.gardenofpraise.com/images2/escape.jpg)

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Story of the Day for Friday September 20, 2013 

  Three years and one week ago, on September 13, 2010,  this story was the first story posted on Story of the Day climbinghigher.org as a blog post.  Here it is again in celebration of three years on the world wide web.  Please enjoy and share with your friends.  Thanks!

Let His Love Dry Your Tears 

 

                       The memory of my affliction and homelessness is bitterness and gall.  As I recall it over and over, my soul is downcast within me.   

                  Yet, I call this to mind and therefore have hope: Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, because his mercies never fail.  They are new every morning. 

Lamentations 3:19-23   

 


When our children were little my wife always insisted I should take them to the clinic for immunization shots. I tried to convince her that children need a mother at suchtraumaticmoments. Then I would appeal to her higher nature by telling her not to be such a ninny.   

Yet, despite my patient reasoning and crystalline logic, she remained adamant that I take them for their shots.  

 

The ninny.   

 

So off I would drive to the clinic with a little child bundled in the car seat. When the nurse walked into the room with the syringe, she would sigh and apologize – as if this is all her fault. (Nurseshate this part of their duties.) 

I would hold my little toddler on my lapthis cute little lump of sweetness and joy. Howswiftly the fortunes of life were about to change.   

 

What happened next is always the same. One moment they sit on my lap, secure and content.Then the needle. And then the piercing screamthat echoes into the next county.  The cry that pierces a daddy’s heart. 

https://i2.wp.com/heicholhakodeshbrazil.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/06/Child_hugged_by_father_2.jpgWant to know what my children do next? They hug me. As they sob in pain they cling to me for comfort  

I cannot explain to them why I didn’t defend them – why I didn’t fight off the strange woman with the needle who attacked with out provocation. I cannot explain that this present wound will pass, but the benefits will carry on. I cannot explain that I deliberately took them here because I love them dearly. My children are too young to understand. All I can do is hold them tight and tell them it will be okay.  

 

Do you think there ever comes a time when God is willing to put you through  painful experiences because he loves you? Do you think there are times when he hurts you but can’t explain his reasons?    

Do you think he wants you to cling tighter to him? That he wants to hold you tight and let you know it is going to be okay? 

 

So what do you do when the tears come and life hurts so badly? Cling to your heavenly Father. Blow your nose. And let his love dry your tears.  

(copyright 2010 by climbinghigher.org and by Marty Kaarre)

(image: http://heicholhakodeshbrazil.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/06/Child_hugged_by_father_2.jpg)

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